Use Haiku to Break Writer’s Block

The haiku is a form of Japanese poetry enclosing 17 syllables within three pithy lines. The first and third lines of the haiku contain five syllables and the second line contains seven syllables. The haiku does not require the use of rhyme or meter.

Haiku: an ink-clad
thought on paper; lovely like
the lake at sunrise.

Most haiku (plural is also “haiku”, not “haikus”) present one simple image using the five-seven-five progression of syllables. The third line usually contains a “fragment” that is linked to the image or insight in the first two lines.

Shall I ever fly
with my own wings towards a
sky with no limits?

In addition to the syllabic count, most haiku present images connected to nature, and especially to a particular season. Often, a haiku evokes a sense of empathy in the reader by revealing an image or experience that is unique but universal.

Her cigarette smoke
clouds my mind; the lake reflects
a turbulent sky.

Haiku is an elegant and effective way to overcome writer’s block.

It hardly takes a minute to write the three lines of haiku.

They shout “Might is right.
Give up the fight.” I think,
“Barking dogs don’t bite.”

Though the standard 5-7-5 syllabic format of the haiku is simple enough, you can write haiku using a total of fewer syllables.

You can use haiku in many ways to break writer’s block.

  • To kickstart your writing session:

To want to write and
to avoid putting words on
paper is suicide.

  • To regain focus when you are feeling depressed or bored:

When shall I go forth
and clap my hands in wonder
at my own courage!

  • To define the present moment using humorous or upbeat haiku:

Your castle built, so
painstakingly on air, lies
in ruins around you.

A setback is not
a setback, if followed by
a rapid comeback.

  • To use metaphors in creative ways:

This ugly monster
is the metamorphosis
of an ink-clad thought.

  • To express irony :

There are sad-sacks all
around us; look within you
and find the greatest.

A big house is the
need of a big family
or a big ego.

  • To serve as inspirational reminders:

Silence is the one
virtue I must cultivate
assiduously.

You can share your haiku in your blogs. Since haiku are usually less than 140 characters, you can tweet them to their followers and invite them to tweet theirs. You can also take part in online haiku contests (search for “haiku contests” on Google).

Writing is not all
I do in this book of words-
I live, die, create.

Writing haiku is a great way to have fun with words. The only problem is that it can become addictive!

Haiku addiction
can be dangerous because
it’s more fun than fun!

(19 March 2013)


Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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